May 5, 2006

Metallica avoiding battles on new album

By Tamara Conniff

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Five years ago, James Hetfield
would not have been awake or sober enough to get into the
studio at 9 a.m., but that's where he's frequently found
himself as work continues on Metallica's new album.

"I would have been going to bed at 9 a.m., not going to
work," he tells Billboard.

Things have changed for Hetfield, who has been sober for
nearly five years. On May 12, he will receive an honor he says
he is more proud of than any career achievement. The MusiCares
MAP Fund, a non-profit organization aimed at helping music
industry professionals with addiction recovery treatment, will
present Hetfield with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his
"devotion to helping other addicts with the recovery process"
during its second annual benefit concert at the Music Box/Henry
Fonda Theater in Hollywood.

"I don't believe that you have to walk straight into the
fire to know how hot it is," Hetfield says. "That was my path.
The biggest awareness is that you're not alone and that there
is some help. When people get so far into it, where they feel
their life isn't worth anything, that's too far. But, you can
survive it. That's important to know."

Hetfield says the process of making an album while sober is
"very different because there is a lot more awareness of what
we are doing and sometimes over-thinking it. Now we are very
present for it all and I'm not afraid to do or try anything

But he says the current project, which is being produced by
Rick Rubin, is "going great because everyone is present and
everyone is enjoying the process. The process is a lot easier.
(Drummer) Lars (Ulrich) and I would butt heads daily. It would
be going to war every day. You'd suit up in your armor before
you go in the studio. Battling back and forth. Now it's helping
each other do the best of their ability. It's all moving toward
the same goal instead of pulling back."